Anti-Tobacco Program Expands to Homer


     Homer Head Start is involved in “Growing up Tobacco Free,” a three-year program aimed at helping youth avoid tobacco use through various means. 

     The Growing Up Tobacco Free in Alaska Project is an initiative done in conjunction with the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium to offer low-income, rural and Alaska Native families reliable and confidential access to tobacco education and cessation services.

     Amy Modig, a Wellness Education Coordinator and a Coordinator for “Growing up Tobacco Free” says that this project is currently nearing the end of its three-year goal and that Homer was one of the final ten communities added to the program.

     "We're working with the 24 HeadStart sites ... and we've added the final ten this year," she aid.

     Modig also stated that each community creates their own plan to meet and foster discussion about the risks of tobacco, both for smokers and those at risk of second-hand smoke, in addition to them working with the communities to form a plan of some kind, which they just did recently with Homer Head Start.

     "Every site develops a way to approach their communities for support for the parents," she said. "They have local people that come in and talk about ... some kind of topic that is of interest."

     Something else “Growing Up Tobacco Free” makes use of are surveys in communities to determine the ammount of tobacco use in a local area which Modig says they can then pass on to family advocates to help do their job more efficiently.

     Also, the people who offer assistance to help families with tobacco addiction are not trained specialists, but are for the most part comprised of people who are former tobacco addicts themselves and therefore approach the issue from a point of compassion and understanding, which Modig says is very important in helping people quit.

     The project will conclude next year in June and while Modig says that it’s still too early to tell what the full effects of it have been, she still said that overall the project has had a very positive effect on how to reach more families and help families with tobacco addicition.

     For more information about Growing Up Tobacco Free and Homer’s involvement with the project, contact Homer Head Start at 235-4322.